Crannog in Scotland

Date: First millennium BCE to ninth century CE
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Scotland
Description: A crannog is a small island, sometimes natural but mostly manmade, on which people in Ireland and Scotland built a dwelling. Reachable only by canoe or, occasionally, by a wooden bridge to the mainland, the crannogs were probably thought to be more secure than houses on land. Some medieval crannogs have been associated with elite residents, but this does not explain their large numbers: hundreds survive, at least partially, and thousands must have existed in the Middle Ages. Shown here is a reconstruction in Loch Tay, Scotland, now part of the Scottish Crannog Centre. Eighteen crannogs are well preserved in the cold, peaty water of the loch (a loch is a narrow, almost landlocked lake). The round house atop the crannog has walls of wattle (interwoven branches) around a central hearth; the floor is made of parallel tree trunks and the ceiling is thatch (plant matter). Few artifacts have been found on crannogs, but they are usually of wood (tableware, agricultural tools, canoe paddles). Crannogs were constructed and used over a long period of time, from the fourth millennium BCE to the seventeenth century CE, but carbon-14 dating of wood samples from the Loch Tay crannogs indicates a narrower time span: they were built in the first millennium BCE but repaired and reused from the sixth to ninth centuries CE.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 1, 3, 4
Repository and Online Resources: Scottish Crannog Centre
Image Credits: Adam Cohen

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Walkway to entrance of reconstructed crannog, Loch Tay, Scotland (Scottish Crannog Centre) Roof interior, reconstructed crannog, Loch Tay, Scotland (Scottish Crannog Centre)